Kanpur:'Mystery' spinner Ajantha Mendis went into the second Test against India with a reputation to defend but was stripped off his cloak of enigma after 19 futile overs.
For once, his dreaded magic finger that releases his trademark carrom ball let him down and the Indians, chiefly Virender Sehwag, treated him with the disdain reserved for unheralded spinners.
With Sehwag in a murderous mood, Mendis bled 42 runs in his first five-over spell and Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara had no other way but to withdraw the spinner. In fact, Mendis was not pressed into service again till Sehwag departed in the 42nd over.
The former army gunner had two more spells subsequently but at the end of the day, he had not even a single scalp to show after conceding 87 runs in his 19 overs.
Sehwag felt the spinner had become predictable and the batsmen had solved the Mendis code.
"Every bowler has his time when he tries to get as many wickets. It applies to the batsmen also. You sense it is your time and score as much as you can. In Sri Lanka, he bowled really well. He tried different things and bowled in good areas. But now we know him and we tried to dominate him today. I think we have tackled him very well," Sehwag said.
That conscious effort to dominate Mendis was evident in the spinner's first over when Sehwag hit him for a six. In his next over, Sehwag hit him for a four and Mendis copped two more boundaries in his next over.
In his fifth over, Sehwag greeted him with an audacious shot that cleared the long on ropes and Sangakkara virtually had no other option but to withdraw the spinner.
Once Sehwag fell to Muttiah Muralitharan, Sangakkara brought back Mendis and even though Rahul Dravid played him with characteristic caution and Gautam Gambhir did not really go berserk, success eluded Mendis.
Neither his famed carrom ball nor his assortment of googlies, top-spinners, flippers, offbreaks and legbreaks could do the trick for him on a Green Park track that still remains unresponsive to the spinners.
This was a stark contrast to his previous outing against India. In fact, Mendis acquired that enigmatic aura around his bowling after scarring the psyche of the Indian batsmen with his six-wicket mayhem in the Asia Cup final in Karachi last year.
That match-winning haul catapulted him from obscurity to prominence and Mendis enhanced his reputation with the Man of the Series award when the Indians subsequently visited Sri Lanka for a three-match Test series.